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The Perils Of 4K Distribution

GMI Makes it our mission to bring the highest quality video experience to our clients while maintaining a simple, intuitive and reliable Crestron control system design. To us, there is almost nothing worse than an end user picking up their remote control, pressing the on button and their display not instantly delivering them the high-quality video they expect. 

In the world of Crestron control there are many layers behind the push of every button, and distributing 4K properly is one of the most complex parts of what we do.

Readers of this blog, of course, will have heard of 4K, it’s everywhere, but what many people, even professional integrators, fail to understand is that not all 4K is created equally. What I mean by this is that 4K is not simply a standard resolution like 1080p, it is an umbrella term that contains a variety of different resolutions, depending on the source.

Experience Matters

The non-standard of 4K resolution means that effectively distributing 4K from multiple sources throughout a home can be a nightmare for an unprepared integrator. The simple fact of the data requirements needed to push this level of detail and resolution out to displays throughout a space will stymie many integrators. Additionally, there is the matter of timing, remember our good work means nothing if the end user can’t simply press play and have their content delivered instantaneously. Within the Crestron system, we have a limited number of milliseconds to bring this data from the source to the screen, anything under this threshold will amount to a failure. Adding to all of this complexity is the fact that many 4K products will simply not work together.

Layered Complexities

Perhaps the main issue with distributing 4K is the every changing landscape of HDCP. Short for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection, HDCP is put in place at the content level as a measure to prevent copying of digital audio and video content as it travels across connections. As digital piracy becomes more and more sophisticated, HDCP protocols change, which means control systems need to be built in such a way to accommodate these changes without the end user noticing.

Due to these multi-layered complexities, there is just no magic bullet for effectively distributing 4K video, but luckily for us, the #DoneRightNotEasy crew does not need to rely on magic bullets, and we are armed with many different options for putting high-quality 4K video at our client’s fingertips.  Our main best practice in all that we do is making sure we view the entire design of our system as a whole. We use our knowledge to design the full system with these needs in mind, ensuring that we use compatible displays and streaming systems, the highest quality cables and connectors (installed properly of course), and most importantly, the use of Crestron control hardware. Putting Crestron hardware in the middle of the 4K source and the final display allows us to manage the signal with the least amount of latency possible, as well as monitor for any signs of failure. Crestron has often written us custom firmware allowing us to create one of a kind solutions for 4K distribution.

Done Right, Not Easy

There really is no doubt about it, the future is here and if an integrator is already struggling it’s only going to get worse as the technology grows and evolves. In order stay relevant and prepared, as well as to go the extra mile and provide our customers the quality they expect, GMI has taken the steps to acquire a DCI Certification. DCI is the highest level of the 4K resolution types we mentioned earlier and is the standard level of compliance for IMAX theaters and other ultra high-end displays.

There’s no doubt that effectively distributing 4K video through a complex system is difficult, but GMI’s comprehensive approach before, during and after a system deployment make the difference for our clients every time, providing them with a top of the line video experience they won’t hesitate to show off to their friends. 


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